Obion County Chamber of Commerce

Annual Golf Tournament
      Though we had a few scheduling issues with the golf tournament because of weather, we were able to have it Friday, May 12th! We had awesome teams, great door prizes, and a delicious meal! Thank you to all of our sponsors and congratulations to each of our winners! We are already looking forward to our tournament next year! 


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Small Business Spotlight: 
Obion County Public Library
The Obion County Public Library has been serving the area since the late 1930's. The collection was originally housed in the court house and has moved three times since then and is now located at 1221 E. Reelfoot Ave. The library averages over 2,000 patron visits a week and also contains the largest public library collection in West Tennessee outside of Jackson and Memphis. The mission of the Obion County Public Library is to enrich and improve the lives of the citizens of Obion County by providing them with a wide range of meaningful library materials and quality experiences.
The Obion County Public Library is not just books. We provide many different programs for all ages each month.
The Adult collection in the main library includes fiction and non-fiction materials. Many of these materials are also available in large print. The Young Adult section of the library contains a collection of fiction, non-fiction, audio books, magazines, graphic novels, anime and Cliff's Notes. Adult programs and services that are provided monthly consist of one on one computer help on various systems and programs. Paint classes are held three times a month and we also host several local authors for books signings.
The Children's Department offers a variety of programming and materials. These materials consist of board books, easy books, beginning readers, juvenile fiction and non-fiction, juvenile reference books, DVD and audio books, and recently Launchpad Tablets for check out only. Programs and services include weekly story time, monthly crafts, American Girl Club, Magic Tree House Club, Lego Club, Minecraft events, and our Summer Reading Program. The Summer Reading Program is one of the largest programs held each year. Last year 400 children registered for the program and the total attendance count for events was 2,384. We are hoping to exceed those numbers with this year's program which begins on Monday, June 5.
The library also has a designated maker space called the Creative Resource Center that houses a collection of resources for teachers, homeschoolers and crafters. The collection contains home schooling materials, bulletin board idea books, Leap Pads, games, instructional aids, ESL materials and a large number of Ellison Dies.
The library offers study rooms for small group sessions, a mid-size conference room, wireless internet service, and a large meeting facility for rent to clubs, businesses and community events hosted by the library and local residents. The library has recently purchased 6 Verizon hot-spots that are available for checkout and has also received a grant to purchase 17 I-Pad Pros that will be used for library technology classes in the library and also through a community outreach program.
Our library park is open 7:30 a.m. - closing time. There is a walking track that can be accessed by the side gate or through the library. There is a nice walking track if you need some exercise, but it is also a relaxing atmosphere. Our park also includes an outdoor amphitheater where we show movies, put on our yearly Storybook Summer performance, and during our Music and Art Festival in October is a stage for numerous musicians who play throughout the day.
If you live, work, or own property in Obion County there is no fee for a library card. If you don't meet the previously listed requirements it is $20.00 a year for a library card. If you are looking for a nice relaxing place to visit, or in search for something for your kids to do this summer the library is the place for you! Call 731-885-7000 with any questions you may have and our wonderful staff will be happy to assist you!
Business Matters
Thank you to the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Newbern for sponsoring our May Business Matters!  Jeff Nicks gave an awesome presentation on training programs. Thank you to everyone who came out and participated! 
Legislative Breakfast
We had over  70  attendees at our Legislative Breakfast! Thank you to Obion Count Farm Bureau for sponsoring and providing our wonderful breakfast and for the Obion County Library for hosting us! A special thanks to Representative Bill Sanderson and Senator John  Stevens for updating our community on your time in Nashville! 
Center Point Business Solutions
 Celebrates 5 Years!
Discovery Park of America Discovery Children's Garden
DPA opened a half-million dollar Children's Discovery Garden this past month! 
The Robert and Jenny Kirkland Foundation funded the project that features a treehouse tower, zipline, butterfly garden and Rhapsody outdoor instruments
Obion County Among Top Places 
to Own a Home in Tennessee


In This Issue
Be on the lookout for your 2016 Annual Report! If you haven't received one, please stop by the chamber and we will be happy to give you one! 

We would also like to recognize a few business that were cut out on the page where all of our members were listed. The following business are still members of the Obion County Chamber and we appreciate their business! Southern Concrete Products; Southern Logistics Group, LLC; Southern Machinery Repairs, INC; Star Physical Therapy; State Farm Agent Chris Williams; and Steve's Custom Jewelers 
Obion County Virtual Spec Building Recognized
By Eli Dile

It has long been a common practice among economic development organizations to invest in speculative shell buildings as a business attraction tool. Spec buildings make a community more competitive in the site selection process by reducing the time and upfront costs for a company to get up and running in a new community.
But spec buildings don't come without risk. Capital is tied up in construction, and there's no guarantee a company will ever buy or lease it. Plus, constructing a building without a specific industry in mind can limit the range of potential end users, as many have specific facility requirements.
A less risky alternative to a shell building that is a step above a shovel-ready site is the "virtual" spec building. In using this increasingly popular tool, an EDO completes all the site work up to construction, stopping short of putting up the actual building. Instead, a video rendering of the proposed building is provided, hence the "virtual" aspect.
"The visualization helps corporate clients understand how a finished building might look," said location consultant Janet Ady, president of Ady Advantage. "It can also be used to guide utility engineers as to how they might service the building in the future." 
Ideally, it's more than just a video rendering. Virtual spec properties should include the technical aspects of the site and proposed building, posted online for site selectors or businesses to review. Sometimes, several different plans are provided to cater to multiple industries.
It's essentially a middle way between simply having a site and developing a building.

Taking risk out of the equation
The biggest advantage of virtual spec is risk mitigation. Rather than taking a gamble on a shell building, a virtual property saves the community money up front while communicating to prospects that a building can be completed on an accelerated timetable. 
"It's kind of the middle of the range" said Paige Webster of Webster Global Site Selectors. "It reduces cost, they're not taking as much risk, and it gets them on the radar. It's a great option for a rural community."

"We had a spec building that was on the market for several years before a company located in it," said Lindsay Frilling, CEcD, CEO of the Obion County Joint Economic Development Council (JEDC) in Tennessee. "Since then, the community has been reluctant to fund another one."
That's why Frilling and JEDC have opted instead to prepare a 105,000-square-foot virtual property. The virtual building is designed with a manufacturer or distribution company in mind and can easily be scaled up or dow depending on the tenant. By completing the engineering and permitting processes in advance, JEDC has shaved three months off of the timeline from groundbreaking to ribbon-cutting.

Emphasizing flexibility, speed
This flexibility has put the community in the running for projects it previously would not have been eligible for. And the customizable design and floor space enables Frilling to pitch the site on a wider variety of RFIs.
"It keeps us in the game," Frilling said. "It helps us communicate to site selectors and prospects that we're prepared."
"[Virtual spec] allows the EDO to list the property in both site and building databases, opening up new markets," said Ady. "But it should be clearly marked as 'virtual.'"
Still, if a company needs to open quickly and has location flexibility, it will more often than not opt for a completed building.
"If the client needs the building today, it's not working," said Webster. "Still, it's a start. At least they're proactive. It gets them in the game, and adds to their economic development toolbox."
That's why it's important to "market the heck out of it," according to Webster, and to play up the flexibility of virtual properties to win over skeptics. Plenty of companies find that after setting up in a shell building, they require expensive renovations to fit the property to their needs. Sometimes, they end up constructing an entirely new building on the site. With traditional spec, whether or not to include a floor can be a quandary, since different types of manufacturers require different thicknesses or drainage capacity. This is another headache avoided with virtual building products.
In addition to the video, virtual spec buildings should have all the required permitting, zoning, and approval processes completed, plus full blueprints, engineering plans, utility service maps, and title/deed information available for review.
"It's ready to go. There's just no dirt that's been moved," Frilling explained.
Virtual spec properties can be made more attractive with site certifications. The virtual building in Obion County occupies a Select Tennessee Certified Site, a state designation that ensures a property is ready for industrial use, and also sits within a Foreign Trade Zone.
Although flexibility is one of the key advantages, a virtual building cannot be everything to everybody.
"To do a virtual spec building right, the developer has to understand what types of companies would be a good fit based on that community's unique assets and the characteristics of the site," notes Ady.

A valuable dry run
There's another key advantage the virtual property has afforded Frilling and her staff, and that's practice
"If not everyone on your team has worked on developing a building, it's a good exercise to go through because you're thinking through the whole process as if you're working an actual project," Frilling said.
"It's a great use of city engineering time to understand what it would take to service the building -how much it would cost, how much time it will take, who will pay for it - before there is the pressure of a deal on the table," Ady said. 
To make a virtual property competitive, Frilling recommends accumulating as much information about the property as possible.
"Get your team together, including the architect, engineer, builder, even your financers. Have all of that information lined up, and have cost estimates to finish it out," Frilling said. "As much information you can assemble on the front end is recommended."
In a perfect world, every EDO would have the ideal inventory for their dream companies (or said companies would build it themselves). But for communities with modest budgets, virtual spec affords a viable alternative.
Start-up Tennessee short line set 
to offer hometown service

UNION CITY, Tenn. - Twenty-six years after Brent Lee left Union City to go railroading, he is coming home to run his own short line.
The Union City Terminal Railroad is expected to debut in May. The line is an eight-mile stub of the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad main line between Union City and Rives, Tenn., where it connects to the Canadian National (former Illinois Central) main line.
"I was born and raised in Union City," Lee says. "I always had the idea if I ever wanted to short line something, it would be that line."
Lee says he spent 24 of his 26 years with the Burlington Northern and BNSF Railway in track maintenance and train service.
Lee is operations vice president for the Indiana Business Railroad of Evansville, Ind., a privately held company composed of railroad veterans in specialties ranging from civil engineering to locomotive and car repair.
"We can survey, engineer, construct a railroad," Lee says. "Operate it and maintain it. Pretty much anything we need to do."
The company owns six miles of track between Fort Branch and Owensville, Ind., but Lee says the Union City Terminal is the company's first short line operation.
Lee knows the history: the GM&O crossed the IC at Rives. The Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway crossed the GM&O at Union City. The depot that served both lines still stands in the town.
"Growing up there, it was extremely busy. The GM&O had a local station, but then [business] slowed down a bit," Lee says. "My dream is to bring it back to what it used to be, where we have the Union City switcher back in town, providing service for all the customers for whatever they need."
There are several on-line industries, including a grain elevator, and tire and plastics manufacturing plants. Lee says the line carries about 2,000 carloads per year. Until now, it's been a branch of the Class I railroad. He said he approached CN about leasing the line in February, and CN agreed.
"We're working with all the customers to go over existing business, based on working in partnership with CN," Lee says. "We're going to increase personalized service. We're able to offer them multiple switches and a terminal operation, so we're their personal short line."
Word is spreading to other businesses in town. Lee says the railroad wants to increase its transloading business, which has drawn the attention of prospective off-line customers that have never used rail service before.
"That's been exciting. We've had a few new customers pop up wanting to ship by simply approaching them about transloading," Lee says. "I'm having fun. My career's gone full circle, and I'm coming back to do exactly what I wanted to do."
Lee says the railroad is leasing a pair of GP38-2s for motive power.
He bows to history again: "If they get painted, it will probably be back to orange and white." That's the traditional Illinois Central color scheme.
Mrs. Jenny Kirkland Named One of the Most Influential Women in West Tennessee

The Sterling Awards 2017: 20 Most Influential Women in West Tennessee ceremony was held on April 4, Equal Pay Day, at the J. Walter Barnes Conference Center at Jackson General Hospital in Jackson, Tenn.
Receiving an award was Mrs. Jenny Kirkland of Union City, chosen as one of the 20 Most Influential Women in West Tennessee.
Mrs. Kirkland is known for her work through the Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Foundation, with involvement in The Union City Rotary Club Scholarship Program, the Union City Rotary Club European Trip, and The Promethean Foundation, serving on the board of directors.
The 2017 Sterling Award Recipients are: Brownsville: Arlisa Armstrong, area director, USDA Rural Development.; Savannah, Carolyn Blakney, vice-president, CB&S Bank; Atoka, Kasey Culbreath, attorney-at-law, Kasey A. Culbreath, P.C.; Union City, Jenny Kirkland, board chair of Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Foundation and The Promethean Foundation; Dyersburg, Judy Long, president and CEO of First Citizens National Bank; Selmer, LaShell Moore, pre-kindergarten teacher, McNairy County Schools; Henderson, Renee Phelps, customer service representative, Clayton Bank & Trust Co.; from Lexington, Sandy Stanfill, lead off-campus director at Jackson State Community College, Lexington Center, and Ginger Terry, Farmspace Systems, public relations director.
Winners from Jackson are: Elaine Christian, past president, Jackson-Madison County Library Foundation Board; Dr. Amy Dietrich, retired associate professor, University of Memphis; Kathleen Huneycutt, director, Health, Sanitation, Animal Control, City of Jackson; Abby Lackey, associate professor, Jackson State Community College, founder, Heaven's Cradle; Tawanika McKinney, State of TN Fiscal Director, Henning.; Dr. Teri Maddox, vice-president for Dyersburg State Community College; Susan Oliver, First Lady, Union University, United Way Ambassador; Debra Owen, attorney, Jackson Shields, Yeiser and Holt; Helen Owens, assistant professor, Lane College. Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority national president; Darlette Samuels, Chief of Staff, Lane College; Laura Williams, attorney, Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell, PLC. 

Membership Director Spotlighted in TVA's 
'Young Professionals in Economic Development'
Name:  Lauren Tanner
Position/Organization/How long Membership Director for the Obion County Chamber of Commerce since April 2016. We are located in Union City, Tennessee.
How did you get into economic development? Our Chamber of Commerce and Obion County Industrial Development Corporation (OCIDC) are umbrellaed underneath our Joint Economic Development Council (JEDC). Because of this, even though I am technically a chamber employee, I had the opportunity to dip my foot into economic development and have loved it since. There are only 2 paid employees within all 3 of those organizations (our CEO Lindsay Frilling and me), so I am fortunate enough to be involved in every side of Obion County.
 What is the best economic development advice you've been given?
You have to start earlier in the school systems if you want a strong, long lasting workforce. The main thing that I hear from professionals in our area is that outside of having the product (site ready properties, land, etc.) the biggest issue facing economic development in NW Tennessee is our workforce and lack thereof. Once people graduate high school, they move away to large cities and don't come back. It is vital that we start educating students earlier about economic development, workforce development, and ending the stigma that industrial jobs are "dirty". Students can get a technical degree or learn a trade, and have a full time, well-paying job sooner than most kids that go to a 4 year school. If we can teach our students sooner that there are more career options local and close to home, then maybe they will take advantage of our local technical colleges and implement their talents in our local industry, thus growing our overall population and workforce. There is nothing wrong with getting a 4 year degree, but there is nothing wrong with getting a technical degree either.
  What has caught your attention recently in economic development? Economic development isn't just landing the big industrial projects, it's landing small businesses that bring life and uniqueness to your community. It's about making your community a personal experience for everyone that is there. Specifically where we are in Northwest TN, our young talent or "millennial" generation moves away from our area to larger areas after high school (i.e. Murfreesboro, Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville) and don't come back until they are ready to settle down, then they will move back to these smaller areas in their late 20's/early 30's. Because of this, we are having to think of creative ways to bring fresh, new ideas to our communities to make Obion County a desirable place for this generation to move to, move back to, or not even move away at all.
When you have free time, what do you do?   I love to be outside. I got married about 2 months ago, so now that it's summer and we aren't planning a wedding anymore, we love to go out on the boat, hang with our pup, and spend time with friends and family.
What are three fun facts about you? 
1) I have a degree in Agriculture Communications and did marketing/communications for the largest continuous John Deere dealership in the world prior to working at the Chamber.
2) I collect set lists.
3) I love sports. I'm a huge Cardinals baseball fan & UT fan. And also, I'm originally from Nashville, so can I get a Go Preds?!
 What's on your bucket list these days?   Go watch Tennessee play in the National Championship this year, but if that doesn't work out I'm good with watching them in December at the SEC Championship (a girl can dream, right? fingers crossed #GBO) Also, I'm hoping to cross a few more states off my bucket list within the next few years.
What motivates you? Passion. I adore my job, but let's be honest, you don't go into the chamber world for the money. You do it because you love it, you love your community, and you know what it can become if you put your passion to good use. I am originally from an interstate town, and with I-69 (which is on its way to completion) coming straight through Obion County, I know the growth that could potentially happen. I love Obion County the way it is, but knowing the potential it has to be even better keeps me going every day. I am ecstatic to see Obion County grow within the next 10 years and am lucky that I get to be a part of it. 

E+ Broadband Ribbon Cutting
The Citizens Bank Ribbon Cutting
     For over 85 years, The Citizens Bank has been serving friends and families in this area with unparalleled hometown banking.  Local people have enjoyed serving local people in Hickman and Fulton, Kentucky....and, soon in Union City, TN!  Our emphasis is on taking care of our neighbors and providing excellent customer service, while staying current with the most advanced technology.  All of our decisions are made locally.  If you have been looking for good old-fashioned hometown banking, get ready!  The Citizens Bank is looking forward to its opening in 2017 on Reelfoot Avenue (near Wal-Mart) in Union City.

Archived Obion County Chamber of Commerce Newsletters

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2017-2018 Tennessee Municipal Guide

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2017  Tennessee Vacation Guide

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Any Chamber member interested in receiving the hospital's cafeteria menu weekly may contact Emily Medley, food and nutrition services director, at